The Gherardesca Garden was designed by the architect Giuliano da Sangallo (between 1472 and 1480) who transformed the building owned by Bartolomeo Scala into the first “Urban Villa” of its genre, set in a private botanical garden, amongst the largest in Florence (4.5 Hectares)! During the Renaissance an Italian style garden was created, which had a geometric part and another part which consisted of a varied orchard including vegetables and a small forest with tall trees, called “Ragnaia” where nets were used to catch birds when the owners went hunting.
Subsequently, in 1820, Count Guido Gherardesca turned the area into a romantic English park, with landscapes, large clearings, meadows and gardens designed by Giuseppe Cacialli, Antonio Martini and Ottavio Giovannozzi. The garden was enriched with pieces of decorative furnishings such as a Kaffehaus, a Tepidarium, temples, statue fountains, a small lake and a lemon tree garden.
The garden was the first in Florence to host tangerine plants sent from Naples and, among other things, in 1844 it was the site of Tuscany’s fourth agriculture exhibition, confirming its reputation as a paradise of rare and valuable exotic species. Today too one can see unusual species of Cedar, redwood and THUIA, a secular plant used in homeopathic medicine.
During the period when Florence was the capital, Count Ugolino della Gherardesca commissioned the architect Giuseppe Poggi to build the monumental entrance from Viale Matteotti on the North side. The stones of the city walls were used for constructing a small hill in the garden, which is now occupied by a lush grove where hotel guests can enjoy a romantic candlelight dinner protected by a stone gazebo.
After the World War II bombings, the Gherardesca park was restored by Peter Porcinai, the most famous landscape painter of the twentieth century.
During the year the Hotel Four Seasons management opens this marvelous park’s doors to the Florentines at a modest entry fee of € 1 per person (the funds collected are donated to the Istituto degli Innocenti): these special openings generally occur during the Christmas season, involving all the Florentine families with games and snacks (around December 15), and on Mother’s Day.